Union fed up with government inaction on private prisons

Union fed up with government inaction on private prisons

MEDIA RELEASE: The union representing Queensland’s private prison officers has again hit out at the State Government’s failure to do anything about the dangerous situation at Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centre.

United Voice Queensland Secretary Gary Bullock said media reports today showed the Government had missed the point entirely, and their lack of action could be fatal for workers.

“We have been lobbying the State Government for several years now to get rid of reckless prison operator GEO,” Mr Bullock said.

“Whenever you have a private, profit-driven company like GEO running things, they are going to put their bottom line ahead of safety, and this Labor Government is allowing it to happen.

“The Premier and Minister Ryan need to stop trying to save money at the cost of our prison officers.”

Mr Bullock said the Crime and Corruption Commission’s (CCC) recent Taskforce Flaxton report confirmed the union’s concerns about safety, mismanagement, corruption and cover-ups at the jail.

“The CCC found that private prisons create significant corruption risks and lack oversight by Queensland Corrective Services (QCS). 

“There is no accountability or transparency. Serious incidents are referred back to the private prison operators to investigate themselves, and QCS turns a blind eye.

“We’ve had numerous reports of severe understaffing, including prison officers working on the floor along with up to 68 prisoners at times.

“Around 90 per cent of members we surveyed last year said staffing levels were not normally at an adequate and safe working level.

“The response by GEO to incidents like this is that they shouldn’t work there if they don’t feel safe.”

Mr Bullock said the Minister and the Premier were aware of the potentially deadly situation at Arthur Gorrie, which is why the union had ramped up lobbying efforts to protest at 1 William Street this month.

“We honestly believe a worker will be seriously hurt or killed because of overcrowding and understaffing, which is why our rally was so pointed,” he said.

“Our members have been promised action, but nothing has happened. The Premier is all talk and no action and Queenslanders are suffering because of it.

“We know Campbell Newman was too quick to move things through without consultation, but this Government is too far the other way where nothing gets done.

“If this Government wants to be re-elected, they need to stop the endless talkfest and start acting in the interest of Queenslanders.”